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Bond, D.D. (1962). Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. A Study of 'Brainwashing' in China: By Robert J. Lifton, M.D. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1961. 510 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 31:279-280.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:279-280

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. A Study of 'Brainwashing' in China: By Robert J. Lifton, M.D. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1961. 510 pp.

Review by:
Douglas D. Bond

Lifton has written a fascinating social study of the effects of 'brainwashing' in a Chinese communist prison. He uses the case method, quite new to historians apparently, which allows him to reach out from the individual experiences to the society in which they occur. The case histories fill the first part of the book. A short history of totalism and thought reform, especially in China, fill the second.

For anyone familiar with Orwell's 1984, the case histories have a fantastic familiarity. To this reviewer the most important psychological contribution is the apparent fact that when enough pain is used over a long enough period of time, the victim ends with a benevolent attitude toward the persecutor. Orwell ended his novel: 'He loved Big Brother'. But the knowledge of individual psychology and the understanding of the power of guilt, perverted and manipulated in ways similar to those used by many religious sects, are remarkable demonstrations of the intelligence of the enemy and of his psychological sophistication.

The three chapters on cultural perspectives are particularly enlightening.

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